On Wednesday, the Home Office published new policy guidance in regard to the Immigration Act 2014 code of practice: freezing orders (bank accounts measures). The purpose of the guidance is to outline a new code of practice for freezing or closing the bank accounts of individuals who the Home Office identify as having no valid status in the UK and foreign offenders facing deportation. However, this guidance, which is set to begin in January 2018, has faced mountains of backlash from MPs and campaign groups who have warned that the policy is just another device used to create a Hostile Environment Policy which will be damaging to a large number of foreign nationals who may even have valid status.
What are Right to Bank Checks in the Government’s Hostile Environment Policy?
On the 30 October 2017 the Home Office introduced new Right to Bank measures in order to create a Hostile Environment Policy in the UK and further crack down on net migration in the UK. Under Section 40C(2) of the Immigration Act 2014 and amended under Schedule 7 of the Immigration Act 2016, banks have a duty to conduct quarterly periodic checks in order to identify account holders who have no valid status in the UK or foreign criminals facing deportation. The bank or building society is required to inform the Home Office and can freeze or close that person’s bank account. The updated guidance includes a number of factors in deciding whether the bank should freeze the account, or out-right close it, which includes considering the amount of money that is in the account; if the balance is less than £1,000 the account will be closed.
How is the Right to Bank update adding to the Government’s Hostile Environment Policy?
Banks will begin carrying out right to bank checks on 70 million accounts in January 2018 and since the update has been announced, more than 60 MPs and numerous campaign groups and academics have urged the Secretary of State to reconsider carrying out these “damaging” and “inhumane” checks as not only will those in an already vulnerable position be exploited, but also individuals who have valid immigration status.
The Home Office is notorious for making mistakes in regard to its immigration checks with findings from the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration Inspection Report on Hostile Environment Measures finding that 10% of immigrants were incorrectly listed as “disqualified persons” by the Home Office last year. However, a Home Office spokesperson has reassured that it
“…has rigorous checks in place to try and avoid errors being made under the new policy, and that in the event of bank accounts wrongly being frozen there will be a system in place to rectify the situation”.
It is therefore important that foreign nationals in the UK do have valid status and the right to bank in the UK. If your visa has expired or is about to expire, contact our specialist immigration team to book a consultation do that our solicitor can help your prepare a strong application.
Using Legal Representation under the Hostile Environment Policy
Legal representatives, such as our specialist immigration and visa law firm, are qualified to advise you on immigration law and your immigration status ensuring you comply with the Immigration Rules. It is possible to instruct an immigration and visa legal representative to assist you with understanding and complying with the Immigration Rules.
Caseworkers at the Home Office are trained to reject applications which are improperly prepared, for example by failing to provide the correct supporting evidence. In order to ensure your application succeeds, all necessary documents must be provided. This can be a significant administrative task and you will need to submit the correct documentary evidence. The UK Immigration Rules are complex and a legal representative can help ensure that you comply with the UK Immigration Rules.
Successfully comply with the Hostile Environment Policy
Our team of solicitors and barristers are specialist immigration lawyers who act in your best interest. We offer a client-tailored approach from the outset. From the very first meeting, we will be able to advise you in respect of your immigration status and whether you comply with the Right to Bank Check before your matter even reaches the Home Office UK Visa & Immigration department. We can assist you with the preparation of your immigration and visa application and ensure that you meet all the requirements of the relevant rules.
Our offices are based in the legal epicentre of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients. We are minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.
Preparation is the key to successful immigration applications. Our UK immigration and visa solicitors are here to guide you through the complex immigration rules and requirements. If you wish to meet one of our lawyers, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your case and arrange your legal consultation.
Contact our London immigration solicitors on 02071830570 or complete our contact form.